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Avoiding the holiday from hell

Written by Annabel James

Planning a holiday is nearly as much fun as the actual holiday itself….. but a lack of planning when you’re old is vital as I found out

We’ve all had them.  The holiday you never forget for all the bad things that happened on it – lousy weather, a hotel that didn’t match up to the blurb, rubbish food, and more lousy weather.

A holiday for Mum and Dad has joined this merry list – we thought a week in a cottage in Cornwall would be ideal;  not far to travel, familiar territory  in that we booked a cottage that I had already been to.   It had a lovely view, and as far as I could remember, all of the living space was on one level…….I drove down with Mum and Dad to help with the driving and the bag carrying.  All fine so far.  Everyone was in a holiday mood.

The first nightmare was arriving at the cottage down the very steep driveway which I had forgotten about.  By the time we arrived outside the front door, Dad was already anxious about getting the car back up the drive on his own and out of the steep turning on to the main road.   Enthusiasm levels plummeted, and then we looked at the front door access.

Mum is no longer able to walk unaided.    The steps to the front door were shallow and wide so I had thought ok for a walking frame.   However there was no handrail at all, and the slight tilt of the driveway meant getting out of the car, onto the frame, and onto the steps was a major challenge.   And then actually negotiating the steps without any handrails as a safety net proved to be already almost the last straw.

The horror didn’t end there.  Having made it into the front door, there were a few steps inside down to the living area which I’m sure hadn’t been there when I had visited before.   Or more likely, as a reasonably fit, middle aged woman, I just hadn’t anticipated how difficult they would be for someone less mobile and agile.

The shower room did have a grabrail, but it was at the wrong height.  The loo was really narrow for a walking frame.  The kitchen wasn’t laid out very well and there was a difficult step out of the doors into the garden which also meant Mum spent most of the week inside looking out.

What I had really failed to appreciate was the combined effect of all of these things.   If it had just been the driveway or maybe just one of the flights of steps then I’m sure they would have had a more relaxing time.  But as it was, Mum felt so anxious about all of it that every day was increasingly miserable for her, and by association for Dad.

What did I learn?  Mainly that my idea of a good holiday did not take into account the reality of Mum’s situation.   Single level living isn’t enough if the access to it is rubbish;   and, however great the view is, if you’re stuck inside for a week, then the view hardly matters.

Now, Mum and Dad return to the same place they have come to love.  It is perfectly suited to their needs.  There are no surprises at all, and that makes for a relaxing holiday – always one to remember, for the right reasons.

Have you got holidays from hell to share?  Join our forum and let us know.

About the author

Annabel James